"I fought for 145 days, lost 20 kilos and suffered from exhaustion, but I did not achieve my goal" - why the Ukrainian director had gone on a hunger strike and what made him end it
Ukrainian director Oleg Sentsov who has been sentenced to 20 years in a Russian prison has ended his hunger strike which lasted for 145 days.
On 6 October he delivered a statement through his lawyer, saying that he decided to end the strike due to being in a critical condition, and the readiness of the authorities to feed him forcefully.
“My opinion was not even taken into account. As if I am not able to assess my own health and the threats to it…
“Under the circumstances I have to end the hunger strike. 145 days of battle, 20kg less in weight, body destroyed, and the aim is not achieved.”
“I’m grateful to everyone who supported me, and I ask forgiveness from those I’ve let down,” his statement says.
Who is Oleg Sentsov?
Director and internationally recognised political prisoner Oleg Sentsov is from Crimea. After the peninsula’s annexation by Russia in 2014, he refused to receive Russian citizenship and did not hide his critical attitude towards the event.
In 2015, Sentsov was arrested on charges of participating in a terror attack, as well as organising one. The first charge referred to an arson case of the United Russia offices in Simferopol. The second charge was participating in a plan to blow up the statue of Russian Emperor Nikolai II. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Sentsov has been recognised as a political prisoner by the Russian organisation Memorial, as well as by Amnesty International.
In April 2018 Sentsov, then imprisoned in the town of Labytnangi in northern Russia, announced a hunger strike. He demanded the release of all Ukrainian political prisoners in Russian prisons. Human rights organisations say that there are more than 70 such people.
In support of Oleg Sentsov, dozens of leading cultural figures have spoken out. His case has been discussed between the Russian authorities and the president of France, the chairman of the OSCE and the secretary general of the UN.
Oleg Senstov’s hunger strike ended the moment his condition became critical and posed a threat to his life.